In the wild, an injured cat is at risk from other animals. Subsequently, cats have learned to hide signs of pain. As their guardians, it’s our job to notice changes to their behavior that could indicate they need help. Signs of pain or discomfort can include:
Behavior - Mood changes, aggression/irritability, hiding, an increase in vocalization, grooming more or less, or only in certain areas. Purring, often associated with a happy cat, is also a way for a cat to self-soothe;
Activity Level - Decreases in energy are not necessarily a sign of aging as aging itself is not a disease. There may be a medical reason for decreased activity;
Food and Water Intake - A decrease or increase in appetite or thirst may indicate a medical issue;
Body Posture - A hunched up position, shifting of weight, abnormal gait, or reluctance to move at all.
Consult your veterinarian about changes your cat is exhibiting. Annual checkups are important to establish a baseline of what is normal for your cat.